Origins of the School

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From a 1944 graduation album

Frank L. McGuire Maritime Library

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Matchbook ca. 1944

Frank L. McGuire Maritime Library

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18th century map of New London harbor

Fort Trumbull site at center left

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Fort Trumbull, by Seth Eastman, ca. 1870, one of 

seventeen paintings depicting forts hanging

in the U.S. Capitol

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Coast Guard cutter ca. 1930

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Fort Trumbull from the south, ca. 1910

     From 1939 to 1946 New London’s Fort Trumbull was the home of the U.S. Maritime Service Officers School.  The buildings housing students, classrooms and training facilities were built on land surrounding the imposing granite Fort that had guarded the harbor since 1849. 

     Today's Fort is the third to occupy the site.  Connecticut's colonial governor. Jonathan Trumbull, recommended in 1775 that a fortification be built to protect New London. It was finished in 1777 and four years later fell to the British army under the traitor Benedict Arnold, which then burned the town and massacred the defenders of Fort Griswold across the Thames River in Groton. 

     The third Fort Trumbull never saw action, but was used by the Army for training purposes, and became the home of the Revenue Cutter Service school in 1910.  This was renamed the U.S. Coast Guard Academy when Revenue and Life Saving Services were merged in 1915, and in 1932 the Academy vacated Fort Trumbull for its new campus on another riverfront site in New London. 

     A Columbia University research program addressing the German U-boat threat also occupied the premises, and was renamed the Naval Underwater Sound Laboratory in 1945 when a similar research program was relocated to Fort Trumbull from Harvard University.

                                              ---Brian Rogers

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